Arts & EventsSham-rock On! Beau’s and the Irish Society Throw a St. Patrick’s Day Bash to Remember

Sham-rock On! Beau’s and the Irish Society Throw a St. Patrick’s Day Bash to Remember

Sham-rock On! Beau’s and the Irish Society Throw a St. Patrick’s Day Bash to Remember

Steve Beauchesne, Co-Founder of Beau's pours, a brew. All photos by Andre Gagne.

“So what if it was two days late,” said Mary O’Brien, decked out green from head to toe. “That means even more fun! Every day can be St. Patrick’s Day!”

The sea of green that flooded into Lansdowne’s Aberdeen Pavilion on March 19 echoed that sentiment. They came to party no matter what day it was and brought with them the sound of bagpipes and fiddles, several flags of green, white and orange, a few “Kiss me I’m Irish” shirts and, of course, leprechauns.

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“We’re from Ireland,” said O’Brien adding a firm “County Kerry!” with pride. The couple wanted to see how Ottawa celebrated and were not disappointed.

O’Brien and her husband were just two of the hundreds who followed the the 34th annual St. Patrick’s Parade route as it weaved through the city making the pavilion its last stop. There revellers and merry-makers could attend the first co-produced party by the Irish Society and Beau’s Brewing Company. If they had a ticket, that is, as the 2,000 sold out in less than a month.

If you’ve had a chance to experience the Oktoberfest festivities in Vankleek Hill each year, where the Beau’s is located, you know the Brewing Company knows how to throw a party.  Launched on Canada Day back in 2006 by father and son Tim and Steve Beauchesne, their signature brews have become award winning staples to many a local gathering.

Strong Patrick dances with Ottawa Rose Sarah Griffin
Strong Patrick dances with Ottawa Rose Sarah Griffin

Beau’s approached the Irish Society two years ago with an interest in throwing a St. Patrick’s Day party like no other. The society was very receptive at the time, but everyone involved felt more planning was necessary to do it right.

“You only get one chance to do things right the first time, says co-founded Steve Beauchesne. “The Irish Society has been wonderful. They changed the parade route so it ends right where our party is. They helped us line up traditional entertainment and make the sure the culture was represented right. They have been just amazing to work with.”

Mike LaDue lets out a shout
Mike LaDue lets out a shout

Mike LaDue came down to the event with his mother. She’s from County Laois in Sout-Eastern Ireland. LaDue, dressed in the flag of Ireland and working on beer number three, was in awe looking around the event. “I was at the party last year and Beau’s have outdone themselves!”

The opening ceremonies kicked off with a greeting that became a farewell for the Irish Ambassador to Canada, John Raymond Bassett. He has held the position since 2010 but he addressed the crowd to say there comes a time to return home.

“Thank you for the richness you’ve given us here,” Bassett said. “There’s no way we could go about paying it back.”

This is about as serious as the day became. Moments later Bassett was tapping a cask of Beau’s Strong Patrick Irish Red Ale and handing samples out to the crowd with Beauchesne.

Irish Ambassador to Canada John Raymond Bassett
Irish Ambassador to Canada John Raymond Bassett.

The thing about a nine hour St. Patrick’s party is that there’s no doubt you can sing along to “Whiskey in the Jar” about 40 times before the sun sets. If you like traditional Irish music this was the place to be as local troubadours Mountain Tay took to the stage for most of the afternoon playing many Irish classics with guests Niahm O’Bryne and Chris Last.

“Traditional entertainment was a must,” said the event’s Producer, Josh Gottlieb, adding that they worked closely with the Irish Society when programming the entertainment for the day.

Other events included energetic performances by the Sue Fay Healy School of Irish Dance that included a traditional brush dance that had the crowd putting their beers down to clap along. There was also an intense thumb wrestling tournament and plenty of dancing. One dancer who really stood out was Ottawa Rose selectee Sarah Griffin. Schooled in traditional dance, Griffin was part of a group of local women vying to represent Ottawa in Ireland’s prestigious Rose of Tralee competition. She felt honoured to represent theOttawa Rose Centre at the event.

“Today was honestly amazing! So much talent in Ottawa and I'm not surprised at all,” said Griffin. “A highlight today has definitely been seeing the community really excited to get involved in Irish sport and culture. Teaching at the SFH Irish dance booth was such great craic!”

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The SFH Irish Dancers.

Attendees could also try their luck with a harder-than-it-looked stein holding event in which you hold a full stein of beer out in front of you and you are not allowed to spill a drop. Losing wasn’t so bad for participants. The consolation prize is you get to drink the beer.

Speaking of beer, if you needed something to wash down your Irish stew strudel or shepherd’s pie croquette there were many to choose from at stations set up around the event. You could sample Beau’s Lug Tread, the peanut butter and grape porter Elephant Monsoon, Farm Table Grisette and also the brew they concocted with comedian Tom Green.

The evening music brought a high octane performance by France’s Celkilt where you might think you were watching an acrobat troupe with the amount of jumping and soaring around the stage they did. If seeing AC/DC performed on the bagpipes, complete with an Angus Young signature strut, was on your bucket list the band helped you check that one off. The group descended from the stage to start a dance inside the crowd working those gathered into a frenzy usually reserved for schools of pariahs or those attending a Dropkick Murpheys show.

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Delhi 2 Dublin.

“We’ve been touring all over,” said singer/guitarist Rems MacGround, “but this is the cherry on the top for us!”

Once the roof was settled back on the pavilion, Vancouver’s Delhi 2 Dublin proceeded to blow it off again. Mixing traditional Bhangra and Celtic music with electronica, funk and hip hop, the group has been sharing their unique sound the world over since forming at Vancouver’s Celtic Festival in 2006.

“This is amazing!” said Julie Ribi from her spot at the front of the stage. The big grin on faces like hers as the crowd danced to the beats told Beauchesne the event was a success.

“I think the smiles on people’s faces is really a highlight for me as everybody is just having a great time,” he said.

No word on if the event will return next year, but given the success of the inaugural party one could make a safe bet with a few gold coins that the Aberdeen Pavilion should be painted green in 2017.

All photos courtesy of Andre Gagne.

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